Toy company Mattel has honored several female athletes by creating dolls in their likenesses as part of its “Shero” Barbie line. However, the latest athlete to be honored is a vocal critic of Israel.
Ibtihaj Muhammad made history as the first female Muslim-American Olympic athlete to compete wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim headgear that is mandatory in some Islamic countries.
She also became the first Muslim-American female athlete to win an Olympic medal for the U.S., as she and her team took bronze for sabre fencing in the 2016 Rio Games.
For the first time ever, Barbie will wear a hijab.https://t.co/TRRSBs53lN
— CNNMoney (@CNNMoney) November 14, 2017
Sejal Shah Miller, the vice president of Global Marketing for Barbie, believes the Barbie Doll, the first to ever wear a hijab, is about “celebrating” and “embracing” Muhammad.
“Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything,” Miller said said in a news release, according to HuffPost.
But Muhammad is not only famous for being an medal-winning Muslim-Americans Olympic athlete. She is also an outspoken critic of Israel.
On her Twitter page, Muhammad has made no secret of her anti-Israel sentiment.
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 22, 2014
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 24, 2014
Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state http://t.co/RkEgmCF2fA
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 31, 2014
In November 2012, she claimed that Israel was “militarily occupying Gaza.”
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) November 16, 2012
Muhammad said she sees her Barbie doll as an inspiration for young girls. She indicated that in honoring her, Mattel is choosing to make a political statement.
“I think its revolutionary for Barbie to take a stand in this moment that we’re in – and I would say, as a country, to have a doll wear a hijab and be the first of its kind,” Muhammad told People magazine.
“There has never been a Barbie doll to wear a hijab before. I’m really excited to have this moment happen in my life and also for all these little girls now who can shop for Barbie doll that may look them, may wear a hijab like they do, or like their mom does, or like a friend does.”
Thank you @Mattel for announcing me as the newest member of the @Barbie #Shero family! I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true 😭💘 #shero pic.twitter.com/py7nbtb2KD
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) November 13, 2017
Muhammad implied that she wants to empower other minority women as well.
“I’m excited to just partner with a brand that I know honors powerful women who are breaking barriers and whose sole goal is to impact the future leaders of tomorrow,” she said.
“It’s cool to have Muslim girls in the conversation, to have African-Americans as fencers is also really cool. I feel like we’re just shattering all the little glass ceilings here.”